To say the Eagles’ 2019 season has been disappointing would be a dramatic understatement. Speculation over potential personnel changes is already ramping up and we still have a quarter of the season remaining. But there has also been a lot of criticism faced by the coaching staff, and when asked about accountability for his group of coaches, Doug Pederson gave a very interesting answer:
“You hold them accountable by the way their position plays, number one. All these things I do at the end of the season and go back when I evaluate, which is probably the next question out of your mouth. But I do it that way.
And I’m up front with the coaches from day one, from — all the way back to OTAs when we’re coming out of that off-season before OTAs. I make a statement with the coaches. I’m probably giving you more information than you need, but I want to be up front with them as well.
Say, ‘Listen, your performance is based on your players and how well they perform.’ Obviously they can’t control injury and all that. That’s where it starts.
The message is clear early in the season. It’s just not now. It’s been addressed earlier in the year.”
If performance is based on players and how well they perform, but there’s negligence to acknowledge the struggles mid-season, that’s a little worrying. It’s hard to grade coaches because we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, all we see is the finished product. I’d argue that a player can show development while not necessarily seeing an uptick in production, but if we’re to go off Pederson’s criteria, here’s a look at which coaches may be on the hot seat this offseason.
Quarterbacks coach – Press Taylor
Replacing ‘QB Whisperer’ John DeFilippo was never going to be an easy task and it’s hard to really give Taylor a positive or negative grade, given that he’s already working with a great talent, who has sustained that level of play.
The main concern however is that Wentz struggles with poise in the pocket. Escapability is different to climbing the rungs of the ladder and shifting out of the way to avoid pressure. Once the alarm bells ring, Wentz will often scramble out of danger, which can either end brilliantly, or worryingly. His footwork inside the pocket was a key focus after his rookie season, but after coming back from his ACL rehab, old habits have occasionally crept back into his play.
We also have to acknowledge the fact that Wentz still struggles with ball security, coughing the ball up when being hit by opposing defenders in an attempt to get it out and avoid a sack.
Nobody is asking Wentz to lose the daredevil mentality that makes him so special, but there are coachable traits that have not improved this season, and that should reflect on Press Taylor.
Running backs coach – Duce Staley
There really isn’t much to scoff at here. Staley has done an excellent job coordinating the run-game and helping rookie Miles Sanders develop into a lethal dual-threat back.
There are still plenty of things to work on, but Staley continues to squeeze every last drop of juice from his running backs and should be nowhere near the firing line.
Offensive line coach – Jeff Stoutland
Like Staley, Stoutland shouldn’t be even mentioned in those conversations. On paper, the Eagles offensive line is still among the best in the league, and that’s thanks to the development of players under Stout’s guidance.
Seumalo is now a serviceable starter, Andre Dillard held his own at LT when thrown into uncharted waters, and the fact both Brooks and Johnson have received monster contract extensions speaks for itself.
Tight Ends coach – Justin Peele
Zach Ertz continues to shatter records (aided by the fact there is so little production at WR), and has come a long way as a blocker in the last couple of years, while Dallas Goedert remains a dominant blocker who still struggles to gain separation, relying on his monstrous frame to win contested catches. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it…right?
There’s room for improvement, but Peele has been instrumental in the growth of Ertz and the early-stages of Goedert’s career. Peele should absolutely be safe.
Wide receiver coach – Carson Walch
Defensive line coach – Phillip Daniels
Daniels has been so criminally underrated since replacing Chris Wilson. Brandon Graham is on-pace for a career-year, he’s facilitated a spurt of production from Josh Sweat, and helped names like UDFA Anthony Rush play an important role when depth was thin, ensuring that production didn’t dry up.
Daniels should be kept around at all costs and given the priority on ‘building from the ball out’, he likely will be.
Linebacker coach – Ken Flajole
It’s not looking good, is it?
The Eagles linebacker group has struggled all year long and free-agent Zach Brown was released following his comments about Kirk Cousins. UDFA T.J Edwards has flashed some nice play, but Nate Gerry has been a consistent inconsistency, while Nigel Bradham has also had a topsy-turvy year.
Is it the fact that the Eagles don’t value the linebacker position (CC: L.J Fort)? Or is it down to the coach not getting the most out of his players?
This is a coin flip at this stage.
Cornerback coach – Cory Undlin
This is really tricky. If you go by a case-by-case basis, it’s really difficult to grade because Undlin has been around for a few years now and, well players haven’t taken significant steps forward.
Jalen Mills – Thrust into a starting role as a rookie and his ceiling was seen as relatively low, but Undlin did a great job helping him surpass it.
Ronald Darby – Still can’t tackle.
Sidney Jones – The experiment is over
Avonte Maddox – Hasn’t looked the same in year 2
Rasul Douglas – Development as a tackler, still can’t get on the field or win coaching staff over.
Cre’Von LeBlanc – Captain Cre’Von slander will not be tolerated. But seriously, he hasn’t really been healthy and around long enough to see strong development.
Make of it what you will. Perhaps it’s partly on the scheme, perhaps it’s on the individual…but I’d hate to be the man pulling the trigger on this decision. You can do a lot worse than Cory Undlin.
Safety coach – Tim Hauck
There have just been way too many miscommunications this year between the safeties and despite some new roles, the role of the third-safety has been a roulette wheel throughout. Again, this is a tricky decision, but given the importance of McLeod and Jenkins’ to the defense, I can’t see him going anywhere.
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